Some people find themselves going deeper and deeper in debt because tragedy strikes (i.e., loss of employment, medical emergency, damage to major appliance or vehicle, etc.) and they are unaware of assistance programs available to them. Instead of applying for aid, they go into debt to cover expenses and some are forced into bankruptcy. This is unfortunate because there are lots of national and local programs available to help people get back on their feet. If you find yourself in a situation where you are having difficulty making ends meet, be sure to research aid programs to see if you qualify. Below is a list of websites and places to help you get started:
- Benefits.gov helps you find government assistance programs. You just answer a few basic questions and then select the programs in which you are interested. The website then walks you through a series of questions to see if you qualify for the program.
- USA.gov also provides detailed information on different government public assistance programs.
- Need Help Paying Bills is a website that provides information on programs that are available to help pay a variety of different types of bills. It gives a basic explanation of each program and information on how to contact the program.
- The Salvation Army also provides emergency assistance.
- Local churches can sometimes also be a great resource even if you are not a member of the church.
- Some hospitals have financial aid programs as well. Their applications are usually long and in-depth but can save you thousands of dollars. If you have large medical bills, contact the hospital’s business office and ask about financial assistance programs.
- Your city government. Many cities offer housing assistance among other programs. You can search their website or call their Human Resources office to find out more information. Even if they do not sponsor any programs, they may have information about other local organizations that do.
Even if you do not qualify for any of the above programs, call and talk with your creditors (i.e., hospital, credit card company, mortgage company, etc.) and see if they will work with you to lower payments or skip a payment. Most companies are willing to work with you if you are proactive and make an honest effort to repay your debt.